Sweet Facts About Ron Howard's Nearly 50-Year Marriage

Marriage can be tough. That shouldn't surprise anyone who's said their I-Dos. But when at least one person in the relationship is a celebrity, the couple has to deal with some very unique challenges. That's why a lot of famous married people quickly went their separate ways, with some splitting after a few months, like in Jim Carrey and Lauren Holly's case. Ali Landry and Mario Lopez were married for an even shorter time, splitting after 18 days.

But on the reverse side, many celebrity couples weathered the pressures of fame and have a long-lasting marriage to show for it. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are good examples of that, as are Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Ron Howard and his wife Cheryl Howard are another famous couple who've lasted an incredibly long time, and the word "soulmates" can be attached to their story. That has everything to do with them meeting at such a young age and all of the lovely things the former "Happy Days" star has said about his wife. As of February 2023, the couple has been together for almost five decades and raised four children together. So for this one, we've shared some sweet facts about their time together, which will definitely make you say the word "Awww" a lot. Just a warning.

Ron Howard and Cheryl Howard met as teens

Maybe it has to do with love songs. Romantic movies can be blamed, as well. We're talking about why it seems people love the idea of high school sweethearts staying together into their adult years, getting married, and living happily ever after. But despite how nice it is to hear about high school sweethearts marrying, it's been reported that less than 2% of them wed. Ron Howard and Cheryl Howard beat the odds, as they met at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California in their junior year.

What's even more unique about their relationship is that Ron was never interested in anyone else after meeting Cheryl. Seemingly, it might have been more common for both of them to fall in love with other people as the years went on, then return to each other after realizing they belong together. Ron and Cheryl truly are living out one of those love stories that's seen in films and heard in songs. "I met her, and there was never anybody else," the famed director told People in 2019.

The three things that make their marriage work

If you scan the Internet for advice on "how to make a marriage work," you'll see books, studies, and lists created by supposed experts. But Ron Howard once said making a marriage work isn't all that complex, and it boils down to three things: communication, luck, and compatibility. "People say, 'How'd you do it?' There's no technique. There's no tactic other than communication is really important," he said during a 2019 People interview. "You have to learn to communicate and have difficult conversations in constructive ways."

What happens when a married couple does communicate properly but their relationship still crumbles? It could have to do with both people growing apart — a problem that might not be remedied with advice or a how-to book. The "Happy Days" actor said he and Cheryl's natural connection helps them leap over certain hurdles: "There's an element of luck because people either grow together or they don't and I don't think you can force that. Our compatibility has endured through all kinds of experiences."

These two may not always see eye to eye. Speaking with the Harvard Business Review about what he learned as a child actor, Ron discussed his use of method acting to better understand his characters, which has made him extremely empathetic. "It drives my wife, Cheryl, crazy, because even when people are clearly in the wrong, I'm understanding of their mindset. I'm saying, 'But you never know what they might have gone through today.'"

Ron and Cheryl recreated their first date

By the time Ron Howard met Cheryl Howard in high school, he was already famous, seeing that he starred in "The Andy Griffith Show" as a kid, playing Opie Taylor. Ron probably wasn't suffering in the money department, either — he once told David Letterman that at age 11, he earned $5,000 more than pitcher Sandy Koufax while Koufax played for the Dodgers. So, of course, that means Ron and Cheryl's first date must've been pretty fancy, and they rode around in a pricey vehicle before eating at a five-star restaurant, right? Nope, that wasn't the case at all. They took in a movie and got pizza just like any other teenage couple. Ron gave details of the date while celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.

"Nov 1 1970 Cheryl & I went on our 1st date," he wrote on Instagram in 2020, next to a photo of socks with Cheryl's face on them. "We went to see a re-release of Stanley Kramer's 'It's a Mad Mad Mad World' and then got some pizza at now defunct Barnone's in Toluca Lake. Quite a start, right? Today we are celebrating with these kind of socks we ordered ... and a trip to our local take-out pizza place. We'll be driving in the same '70 VW Bug I picked Cheryl up in 5 decades ago. It runs great. So do we." You got to love it, right?

He had to get sneaky to see Cheryl as a teenager

On one side of the high school relationship, there are teenagers who desperately want to hang out with each other outside of school. On the other side, there are parents who see the need to set parameters around their child's newly formed dating life. Young love could create all kinds of distractions at school in the classroom, during extracurricular activities like sports, and with responsibilities at home. Young Ron Howard had to get pretty creative when he wanted to see Cheryl Howard, whose father allowed her to go on no more than two dates a week with him.

So, Ron pretended to join the cross-country team, per the Los Angeles Times, and jogged by Cheryl's house in the morning. If her father wasn't home, the couple would head out to grab breakfast after that or maybe steal a make-out session. The way it seems, Ron was much more devious than Richie Cunningham. But that doesn't mean he's confident about his lie being truly believed. "I never thought to ask if they bought that," said Ron.

Cheryl Howard is in every one of her husband's films

Big-time film directors seem to be under a lot of pressure because they have the Hollywood studio to please, as well as moviegoers, while trying to satisfy whatever artistic goals they've set for themselves. Ron Howard's ritualistic behavior is a lot more fun than an old hat or pair of lucky socks — he makes sure to include Cheryl Howard in his work, as she's been in every one of his films.

 "She's my lucky charm," he said on "Sunday Today with Willie Geist." The filmmaker added, "We had to greenscreen her into 'Solo.' ... I cut the scene that she was in and I felt badly about it. She doesn't care, but I care because it's my only superstition." Cheryl was even in Ron's very first film when they were teenagers, not long after they got together. He shared on "The Dan Patrick Show" that the film was a western, and she played a saloon girl.

Clint Howard remembers how taken his brother was

The late actor Cindy Williams appeared in the 1973 film "American Graffiti" with Ron Howard. She also acted with him in "Happy Days" since her show "Laverne & Shirley" was a spinoff of the sitcom. During an interview for the Archive of American Television, Williams said of her co-star Penny Marshall, "She's like a witness to my life." One person who Ron can call a witness to his life is his younger brother Clint Howard, who was there during Ron and Cheryl Howard's early days as a couple. Clint remembers how mesmerized his older brother was once he met Cheryl.

In 2022, Ron posted a black and white photo of himself and Cheryl as youngsters. "On this day in 1970, Cheryl & i went on our first date. We were Jrs at Burroughs HS #Burbank. This pic's a month or so later. Me showing off my Super8! What a journey. Today we're blessed w/4 amazing kids & 6 incredible grandkids & still goin' on some pretty great dates, too," the star wrote. Clint responded in the comments section to share his memories. "She had you wrapped around her finger. I'm so happy for you guys. Mom and dad are happy. #Ron&Cheryl ❤️." In 2021, the brothers released a book they co-wrote, called "The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family," which includes Ron and Cheryl's love story. It's nice to have a witness to your life, isn't it?

Ron and Cheryl love hiking and traveling together

Being a famous Hollywood director and all, Ron Howard is probably a super busy guy. And it's safe to assume that Cheryl Howard doesn't sit around all day, either. Proof of that is her taking research trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan while working on her 2005 novel, "In the Face of Jinn," which she wrote over the course of nine years. But despite their schedules, the couple does a stellar job of making time for each other, based on the Instagram photos that Ron has shared. 

If there's one thing that's obvious in his pics, it's that the couple enjoys traveling and hiking. They've posed for photos in Queensland, Australia, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and by the Hudson River. They also celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in France, and there's one photo of the couple having a night out in London.

To accompany another hiking photo, Ron wrote about how much he appreciates his wife. "Quite a few remarkable Moms to celebrate in our family," he stated. "We are very fortunate. But the mom in this photo ... has made so many good things possible, and so many difficult things manageable. I'm forever grateful." The "Inferno" director clearly has no problem expressing his feelings, which his social media followers seem to love.

Their relationship inspires many

Who doesn't admire a good love story? A lot of folks do, considering the success of romantic films and novels. But a real-life romance seems to be even more inspiring. Ron Howard and Cheryl Howard's sweet moments have led to the lovely comments people leave under their photos. Star Rita Wilson said, "This fills me with such happiness for you both. You're still the same! Smiling and joyful!!!!" Another message read, "Everything about your life is inspiring, Ron. Congratulations to you and your awesome wife!"

Meanwhile, other people wrote about how sweet it is that Ron acknowledges things like a first date and anniversaries on Instagram. And another person said how wonderful it is to see everlasting love. Some of the photos Ron shares might make people recall their own love stories and first dates. Love can certainly be contagious, and the Howards have infected many. 

Ron gushes about Cheryl's looks

Does the sizzle in a relationship that's lasted decades begin to fade at some point? Of course it does in some cases, but not with Ron Howard. The director wrote about Cheryl Howard's looks in a 2020 Instagram photo: "Love of my life looking mighty fine on her 67th birthday," he captioned the post. "We always make some space during the holidays to make her slow down and celebrate. Happy Birthday, Babe."

If anything, the pic shows that the "Parenthood" director still has the hots for his wife and he wanted everyone to know about it. But Ron wasn't the only person to compliment his wife's looks — some of his followers did, as well. Fans told him that Cheryl looked 47, not 67, and that she was nothing short of beautiful. 

Paying attention in a marriage works both ways. The couple's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, told The Guardian in 2011, "One of the greatest pieces of advice I got from my mom was when she said, 'Choose the marriage over the kids.' ... She said that when you're spending your whole lives together, you must put a lot of work and attention into the marriage. That is what makes my parents really healthy, balanced individuals."

They lived on a farm

Considering that Ron Howard and Cheryl Howard were both raised in California, you might think they'd want to bring up their children there. But instead, they hightailed it across the country and raised them on a farm on the border of Greenwich, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. Evidently, the parents wanted to keep their family separate from Hollywood and the pressures associated with living there.

"We moved 3,000 miles away from the hub of Los Angeles, to raise our family here," wrote Ron in a 2014 statement when the New England house was put up for sale (via The Journal News). "Whether we're watching films in our theatre, walking the trails throughout our property, star gazing in our observatory, or just relaxing with friends and loved ones by the lake, Cheryl and I feel we've accomplished the goals we set when we began work on this place."

Ron shared in a 2015 interview with Parade that he and Cheryl instilled old-school Midwestern values in their children, despite being rich. "You can't pretend you're living on subsistence on a farm when you actually have affluence and possibilities," he said. "I think, at times, we probably tried to ignore our affluence. You can't do that. ... That doesn't mean you can't convey some of your parents' principles. My parents were very influenced by the Depression and growing up on farms in the Midwest."